Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Hand Decorated Sugar Cookies - Part Two- The Icings

Have you ever bitten into one of those beautifully decorated cookies and had the icing disintegrate in your mouth into a puddle of sugar crystals?  That is royal icing and it is used for all those cookies because it dries fast and like a brick.  Pretty to look at but horrid to eat.

The icing that I use for my sugar cookies is called a "Glace Icing" and it also comes from Toba Garrett's class that I took in NYC.  There are two parts to this icing method; the outline and the inside or the "flooding" icing.  The royal icing is for the dam (or the outline) and the Glace icing is the "flooding" icing.  The royal icing should be used immediately - the glace icing can be kept for two weeks in the refrigerator.  

Royal Outline Icing
3 ounces egg whites
4 cups confectioner's sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

Whip egg whites until they have gotten to a soft peak. (left photo below) When they have gotten to that stage add one cup of sugar at a time and then add the lemon juice.  Beat for eight minutes or until icing is very stiff.  (right photo below) This is the icing that you will use to outline the cookies so it must be stiff so that it can hold the glace icing.  You can tint it any color.   Store in an air tight container to avoid a crust developing.  When you are ready to use put  some icing into a pastry bag with a number 3 tip and outline the cookie.  This icing dries almost immediately.

Glace Icing
4.5 ounces whole milk
4.5 ounces light corn syrup
4 cups confectioner sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Mix milk and confectioner's sugar until smooth.  Add corn syrup and mix until glossy and add vanilla.  (there is a clear vanilla that is available at baking supply stores which is great to use)

Tightly cover the icing if you are not planning to use it immediately and put it in the refrigerator.    If you are planning on using it immediately divide the icing into a number of bowls and color as you want.  I use plastic squeeze bottles (available online or bakery supply store)  with various tips to flood the cookies.  This makes application easier.  This icing takes 24 hours to dry so some planning is needed for the decorated cookies!


In order to ice the cookies properly I outline all the cookies that I am going to decorate at once.  That way by the time I finish the outlining the first cookie is ready to ice.   My pastry bags are all filled with outline icing.  The easiest way to fill a piping bag with outline icing is to place it open, in a glass with the collar open - this means that you don't have to juggle the bag while trying to get the icing in - I cannot tell you how much icing ended up on my hands before I figured this trick out.  After I fill the pastry bag I twist it tight and close it with a clothes pin.  This prevents the icing from coming out.    I also put a piece of damp paper towel in the bottom of the glass which prevents the icing from drying out.

When you have outlined the cookies you are ready to ice.  Fill the cookie from the center out  with the icing allowing the icing to flood the cookie - do not overfill the cookie; use a toothpick to push the icing to the edge.    I place all the cookies that I am going to decorate on a cookie sheet so I do not have to move them after they are iced.  As I said it takes 24 hours for the glace icing to dry but it will start to set after one hour.   After the icing has hardened (when the icing loses it sheen it is dry) I start to decorate the cookies.  You can see the various methods that I use in the photos below. I put colored sugar on the cookies after the icing has set, draw decorations, write names and add dragees.   The egg cookie with the purple lines is done in the following manner:  ice the cookie with the base color, after one hour run lines of different color icing on the cookie; take a toothpick and drag it alternatively from top to bottom, bottom to top.  That will result in the wavy pattern that you see. 

Making and decorating these cookies is a wonderful time to gather round with friends and children.  During the holidays - all of them - my house is full of friends and their children sitting around the dining room table laughing and creating wonderful memories, both edible and in their hearts.  Make a batch of cookies, icing and watch the magic begin!


  1. Very pretty...but how come Alfee is the only one with a personalized cookie....where is Sam???? I can't wait to spend some baking time together.

  2. forget Sam, where's Margie???

  3. Such beautiful cookies, Suzanne! Happy Easter! xoxo